Homemade Chicken Soup

This is Recipe #4 of our Meal Plan using Chicken Breast.

What we’re repurposing
Homemade stock (8 1/2 cups total)
Chicken, about 2 breasts worth, chopped
*Note: I love dark meat in soup too. If you prefer shredded meat, you can use chicken thighs and the soup is equally good!

What you need
Half an onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Carrot – probably about 1/2 cup total, peeled and chopped
Noodles – Whatever shape your family likes. This time I used whole wheat rotini.
*Optional: Seasonings (bay leaf, oregano, parsley, basil are good in chicken soup)

image

I like to let my soup cook as long as possible, because it develops flavor better that way. And usually, the longer you let the chicken simmer in the broth, the softer it gets and it breaks into smaller pieces. I started my prep around 9:30 in the morning and we ate around 4:30.
In a stock pot or large sauce pan add a pat of butter, then add your chopped onion.
image
image

Next add garlic.
image

When onions looking translucent…
image
Add celery.
image

Here’s how I like to do my carrots. One end is always thicker than the other, so right in the middle I cut the carrot in half:

image
Then I cut the thicker piece in half lengthwise:

image
Then chop!

image

Add carrots to the pot.
image

If you’re using additional seasonings, now’s the time to add them. Sprinkle maybe a 1/2 teaspoon of each that you’d like to use and stir. I didn’t use them this time because I just wanted a good chicken flavor and a more mild broth since I’m still on the mend. Plus our chicken was heavily seasoned, so that will add lots of flavor.
Now we’re going to “sweat” the veggies. Place the lid on the pot and let them cook for a few minutes. When you open it again, it will be steamy, aromatic, and the veggies will be nice and soft:
image

Now it’s time for our chicken stock! You can add little by little if you want, but I just pour it right in, stirring all the while.
image

And now for our chicken! Cut the breast into strips and cut each strip in half:
image
Then chop the strips:

image

Once it’s chopped, add to soup and stir.
image

After 3 hours it will look a little something like this:
image

Continue to simmer over low heat until dinner time – another 3 hours is good.
Add your choice of noodles about 10 – 15 minutes prior to serving, depending on the type of noodles. Remember that the longer it simmers with the noodles in it, the more the noodles will absorb the liquid. So be careful not to leave it too long, or you’ll end up with no broth!

Complete!

Complete! Nutritious, delicious, great for a sick day or a cold one!

Serve with salad and a nice loaf of bread.
wpid-wp-1395870035572.jpg

Meal Plan #1: Chicken Breast

Hi! If you’re new to the blog, read this for an explanation of terms you might not recognize!

You responded, I’m answering!

This post is the first of what I hope will turn into a series of meal plans available for you to follow, which maximize your budget and OHI, minimize your waste, and create quick and healthy meals for your family.

What we’re making this week:
1. Healthy Baked Chicken served with steamed broccoli & your choice of starch
2. Nana’s Guilt-Free Chicken Salad served with baby carrots
3. Fool-Proof Overnight Chicken Stock
4. Chicken Noodle Soup served with salad & whole grain bread
5. Spinach & Artichoke Chicken served with whole wheat angel hair pasta
6. Chicken & Veggie Quesadillas served with fresh fruit salsa & your choice of starch, if desired  *Corn bread is a good option – I’m experimenting with some recipes and will post when I discover my favorite!
7. OHI Chicken Pasta served with salad

Shopping List:
2 packages Bone-in Chicken Breast (8 breasts total)
1 Family Pack Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or frozen – 6 breasts total)
Broccoli (fresh, heads and stalks)
1 large package Celery
(1) 1 lb bag baby Carrots
1 Lemon
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Zucchini
3 Roma Tomatoes
1 Avocado
Mayonnaise (fat free or low fat if desired)
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 bag chopped or diced pecans
1 big tub Greek yogurt
1 bag frozen chopped spinach
1 loaf whole grain bread (or make your own)
Whole Wheat bread and/or tortillas
*Optional: Chia seeds, shredded cheese (parmesan or cheddar are good), cilantro, Lime, Lettuce (Romaine or Green Leaf is good)
Pantry/OHI
Butter and/or Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese (whatever form you prefer)
Sour Cream
1 bag Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Salt & Pepper
Celery Salt
Garlic Powder
Onion Salt
Paprika
*1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (optional)
1 jar Pasta Sauce of your choice
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
Whole Wheat or Veggie shape pasta (i.e. macaroni, bow tie, penne, rotini)
Whole Wheat angel hair pasta
1 Onion
1 Head Garlic
1 Apple
**You will also need to pick your choice of starch for two of the meals above. Use whatever is popular with your family: macaroni & cheese, butter noodles, brown rice, coconut rice, quinoa, etc. You can also substitute an additional veggie or fruit here too! For example, buy an extra bag of carrots and use that one night instead of a starch. In summer, serve with watermelon.

Many of these recipes can be adjusted to your OHI; however I would feel irresponsible if I didn’t give you a full complete grocery list! If there are ingredients above that you do not eat and are not interested in trying, feel free to substitute something similar that you know your family enjoys. In each recipe I’ll try my best to highlight substitution opportunities.

I will be posting a different recipe each day. As soon as it’s live, I will make the link available in this post as well. So excited for you to try some of our tried and true family favorites!

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup!

One day a few years ago I came to work for a lunch shift and asked what the soup of the day was. Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup, they said. “WHAT?!” I thought… This combination sounded far from delicious to me.

That is, until I tried it.

And realized it was AMAZING!

This was back when I didn’t really even eat soup. I just didn’t really enjoy them at all. In my opinion, they weren’t filling enough for an entire meal. And even when I DID try to like soup, I only usually liked the creamy ones, which weren’t good for you anyway. So I figured I’d rather spend my calories on dessert (cuz that’s just the kinda girl I am).

This soup gives you all the richness of a cream-based soup without the guilt. It’s delicious and warms you to the core, if that’s what you want.

Now that you’re intrigued, how do you make it??

Start by roughly chopping some carrots. They can be big carrots, baby carrots, this time I even added some shredded carrots because I had them on hand. (To be more exact, you can use about 3/4 of a bag of baby carrots. I believe that’s what I used last time I made this.) Add some water to a little more than covering the carrots and salt it. Cover and cook on medium until the carrots are soft, probably about 20-30 minutes.

Carrots cooking!

Carrots cooking!

Next drain all but a very little bit of water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

20131211_161537

Use  an immersion blender to puree the carrots. *If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can wait for the carrots to cool and then blend them in the blender, then put back in the pot to finish.

20131211_161855

Next pour in one can of coconut milk. (Usually you have to shake the can because the contents separate after being still on a shelf for so long.) Grate some fresh ginger into the soup. If I had to guess, I’d say about 1-2 teaspoons to taste.

20131211_162338

I’m not sure why the carrots look so much darker in this picture. I didn’t add pumpkin puree or something, even though it looks like I did. 😉

Mix again with the immersion blender until frothy. (I suppose you could use a hand-held blender here too, but it won’t be as smooth.)

20131211_162453

Add a couple pinches of all spice, pumpkin pie spice, and a couple drizzles of honey.

20131211_163100

Hmmm… what do you think is next? Blend, of course!

20131211_163345

This last time I accidentally bought ‘lite’ coconut milk, so I ended up adding a few splashes of heavy whipping cream 😦 It still tasted fine, it just bothered me that I had to use the cream since that’s the whole point of this soup: creamy but still healthy.

20131211_163808

Finished product… Enjoy and be warm!!

20131211_165642

*If you want to add a little counterpoint, you can sprinkle with parmesan cheese, or a bit of freshly grated Parmesan.

Second Meal – Crock pot Italian Chicken to Creamy Chicken Soup

Making “second meals” has fast become one of my favorite challenges. It is fun to see if I can figure out a way to repurpose leftovers instead of just reheating them. Not that there’s anything wrong with simply reheating. I just feel like reheating is a cop out sometimes… ? Where does that come from? I don’t know. I suppose I just like to challenge myself 😉 You know why else? Because reheated meat never tastes as good the second time around. So I try to find a new way to use it instead.

So! Here is the first featured ‘second meal’. Remember the chicken I made in the crock pot a few nights ago? I saved the leftovers in Tupperware and it has been stored in the fridge since then. When I opened it, it actually smelled like canned chicken. BLECH!! (although this did give me an idea for an alternative second meal… stay tuned!) Today I broke out my big soup pot and some OHIs – chicken broth, a little white wine, some frozen veggies, and some seasonings – to freshen up that first meal.

Generally we eat at 5pm. Which means I start dinner at 4. But when I’m making homemade soup I like to give it a little more time to marinate. (I say this like I make homemade soup a lot. I don’t. I just know that in GENERAL, if you want a good blend of flavors and tender meat, longer is usually better. Right?!) So I started this soup around 3:30.

I started by basically dumping the Tupperware upside down into my soup pot, then pouring the chicken broth around it. I used a ladle to spread it and mix it together. (I could’ve used a wooden spoon, sure, but I knew I’d serve it with the ladle, and I’m all for dirtying as little as possible to decrease my dishes. yeah!) Next I added some dry seasonings: thyme, parsley, a little salt, a little bay leaf and some garlic powder. I stirred it around and then added a little parmesan cheese (just Kraft for now). I also added some chopped onion leftover from last night’s dinner (post coming soon!). Next time maybe I’ll prep better and be sure to have fresh parsley on hand to add a fresher taste.

This was still looking too thick for a soup, especially if I planned to add egg noodles later. So I looked around to see what OHI I had… Chardonnay! This was even a freebie, as my mom and our family friend Traci had left it the other night after babysitting the kids (Wait, stop! I know what you might be thinking: my babysitters were drinking?! Don’t worry. The kids were asleep and I have full confidence they were not binge drinking. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually drink around my kids. One beer or glass of wine does not impair my ability to properly care for my kids. Parents, whos with me?!). I probably ended up adding a cup? A cup and a half? I knew it would mostly reduce down, but it would do the job. Adding more depth of flavor and decreasing that super creaminess. I needed some acidity and I didn’t have much other option on hand. It’s now been simmering for 45 minutes or so. It tasted awesome when I tested it. All the chicken was slowly breaking up into smaller pieces.

I debated whether or not to add more pasta and make it chicken NOODLE soup. It already had a little leftover noodles from the first meal and I did have little chicken broth left in case the noodles absorbed too much liquid. At 4:45 I decided to just go ahead and do it. I added what was left of a box of macaroni (about 1 cup – remember how I said I always have little bits left?!) About 5 minutes before serving I added the veggies – frozen peas and carrots.

So, as a side note, I used to really dislike soup. Maybe I never had one I really liked? Maybe I felt like I was getting gypped out of a ‘real meal’. (Kids’ thought processes are WEIRD sometimes. At least I think mine were.) I guess I just felt like the only time I ate soup growing up was when I was sick. (Chicken and stars!! Who’s with me?) Not that my mom didn’t make it. I just didn’t LIKE it. Ha. So I guess the truth is, I wss stubborn and never ate the stuff. Tastes change as you get older, and I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of a good soup. Why?

Soup is generally a combination of leftover ingredients – a way to use stuff up before it goes bad. Stock is made from a combination of meat and/or the bones of that animal. YES! This goes along with my OHI/’use what you have’ motto. “Waste not, want not” is pretty smart. They knew what they were talking about back then. Soup is great for the frugal-minded. Plus, there definitely is something about a hot soup that warms you up from the inside out on a cold day. Or makes you feel better when you’ve got a cold. And. While I’ve learned to appreciate the history of soup, I’ve also learned that you can combine things you’d never think compatible when serving in a soup. Have you ever had Carrot coconut ginger soup?? IT. IS. AWESOME. And not terribly unhealthy either, as you use coconut water or milk instead of heavy cream. Working at a restaurant I’ve even realized I like COLD soup! Gazpacho! Refreshing and healthy.

So. Now I’m going to go serve and enjoy my second meal… Chicken noodle soup!

image
image

image

image

Post-dinner note: this soup is like VELVET. It must have been the wine. All 3 kids ate their bowls empty. Oh yes I will definitely be doing this again!